WordPress vs Drupal vs Joomla: Choosing the Best for Your Site

Content management systems are arguably one of the easiest ways to get a website up quickly. These platforms are automated and require little maintenance once they are installed. In an instant, a user can change the entire appearance of the site by simply selecting a new theme or template. Because they are so versatile, most web hosting providers will have these systems ready for use.

Of the many content management systems, or CMS, WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are the most popular. Each has excellent capacity to build a website quickly, but all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Common Traits of WordPress, Drupal and Joomla

All three of these systems have common traits that are useful, especially if a developer decides to go with a different platform later. For instance all three:

  • Use PHP as the primary coding language.
  • Support MySQL to drive database development.
  • Use themes or templates to create the general appearance of the site.
  • Have additions such as plugins, modules or extensions which can add more functionality to the site.
  • Are open source projects, created by communities rather than a single developer.

Because of the similarities between the three CMS platforms, many alterations and changes implemented on one can work on the other. For instance, custom CSS and PHP coding will work for all three. This makes it easy to use certain widgets or changing colors when done at the coding level.

Installing Themes or Templates

Themes and templates are the cornerstones for creating the general appearance of a CMS-driven website. These are what set the base colors and sometimes include specific functions. Without knowing a single line of code, a user can switch a site from a summer color scheme to a winter holiday appearance with a few clicks of the mouse.

WordPress

When it comes to finding themes, WordPress makes the process quite simple. Users can search through an extensive database of supported appearances without leaving the admin panel. Users can then install the theme directly and immediately have access to real-time customization options. Themes can also be found through a search in Google or Bing.

Joomla

Joomla uses templates to control the appearance of its website. Unfortunately, these have to be found online and then installed manually to the CMS. Aside from the file transfer portion, installing a template is almost as easy as it is with WordPress. The only real difference is that Joomla does not have a template search section built in.

Drupal

When it comes to theme installation, Drupal is in the same category with Joomla. In order to install a theme, a user needs to place the URL into the CMS or upload the file. This means developers have to search online for a theme they want, copy the URL and then paste it into Drupal.

Plugins, Modules and Extensions

One of the major highlights to using a CMS is the ability to add more functionality through plugins, modules or extensions. These components can do everything from optimizing the SEO of the site to displaying the weather of a specific locale.

WordPress

Like its themes, WordPress has an area built into the admin panel for adding plugins. This searchable database is loaded with more than 38,000 additions covering a myriad of purposes. With two clicks of the mouse, a plugin can be installed and activated without leaving the website.

Joomla

Modules and components are installed in Joomla much like its templates. This means you need to find the file and either upload it or add the URL in order to install. However, there is a module for Joomla that adds support for web installs similar to WordPress. This feature is not implemented by default.

Drupal

Installing modules on Drupal is the same process as installing templates. While there is an extensive collection of things that can be added to this CMS, the list pales in comparison to platforms such as WordPress. On the other hand, you can find modules that do just about anything if you look long enough.

Although all three systems have quite the selection of additions available, WordPress has far more thanks to various developers. This may have something to do with the fact that WordPress has nearly 60 percent of the market share for all sites using a CMS platform. Popularity often drives development.

Security and Vulnerabilities

Every CMS platform will have the occasional attack to find vulnerabilities. One of the reasons why WordPress is often the target is because of sheer popularity. Why go after a platform that has five percent of the market share when you can exploit something that has 12 times the available websites?

All three CMS platforms value security. As soon as exploits are revealed, these management systems advise users. The security of web hosting can only do so much when it comes to hacking attempts. Developers of all three systems are advised to use security plugins and modules to keep the criminal element at bay.

WordPress

WordPress has an automatic update feature that can keep the CMS current. It will also list updates of all themes and plugins as soon as developers upload the newest versions. This makes it easier to secure the site as many developers are adamant about plugin security breaches.

Joomla

Many parts of Joomla have to be updated manually. However, developers are just as concerned about attacks as those who build for WordPress. Because of the popularity of Joomla, it’s relatively easy to find security, backup and restore modules to prevent losing data.

Drupal

Developers of Drupal are serious about vulnerabilities, and patches are released on the platform’s website when something is discovered. While some may believe Drupal to be a more stable system than others, it may also be because the platform is far less popular. In either event, it’s easy to keep a Drupal site secure thanks to easy-to-use modules.

Find What Works Best for the Site’s Purpose

Although all three can work in a variety of web hosting platforms, WordPress is often the most chosen simply because of popularity and user-friendliness. While fans of each will point out the best qualities, it all boils down to what the user feels comfortable in using. Find the system that works best and use the CMS to the fullest of its abilities.